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News as it happens - discussion; views; topics; information

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Ashleigh Coombs - Friday, December 11, 2015


The 2015/2016 Summer Sowing Season is now underway at the Trees For Life Nursery!

Ashleigh Coombs - Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our Nursery has had many clients, including Local Councils, NRM groups and Friends of Parks groups. You may have been fortunate enough to obtain some funding for a revegetation project in your park and are looking for a reasonably priced supply of tube stock; it’s possible that TFL might be able to help you.

As the first sow dates for some species are this week, orders will have to be in ASAP, but we are more than happy to work with you on any questions/problems you may have.

If you would like to know more, we can be contacted on 08 8406 0500, or via email at

Look forward to hearing from you,

Brett Oakes

Trees For Life Nursery Officer

Nature Foundation SA

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I have just been looking at the annual report of the Nature Foundation SA. What a tremendous amount of work they do. As well as supporting the purchase of a number of conservation value properties they own six properties, Witchelina, Hiltaba, Watchalunga, Tiliqua Nature Reserve, Para Woodlands and Cygnet Park Nature Reserve; all different types of property each with its own challenges. Altogether the total land acquired by the foundation is just short of 500,000 ha. {approx. 5000 sq. kms}.Weed control, pest animal eradication, repairs to infrastructure etc. is carried out on them where necessary and a huge amount of research undertaken; all done by volunteers. A number of grants are given each year to students to assist them in their projects as they study for their degrees. This is no mean effort when you consider all of this is provided by sponsorship and fund raising. One page (of the NFSA report) is set aside to appreciate the value of volunteers, ‘they are the very heart of NFSA.’

This is only an insight into the organization, further information can be found on

... words from Colin Malcolm, President FOOP

... extract from The President's Page of Friends of Onkaparinga Parks December newsletter

Friends of Southern Eyre Peninsula Parks

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our updated Bushwalking in Lincoln National Park brochure is hot off the press and now available as a comprehensive guide to the more than 100 km of walking trails that we maintain in the Park, spanning a diverse range of natural environments. If you are coming this way, copies of the brochure can be purchased at the Visitor Information Centre or the DEWNR office in Port Lincoln, or it can be downloaded from the DEWNR website.

Another recently completed project is the preparation of a herbarium of Lower Eyre Peninsula native flora by Ian and Chris Abbott, dedicated members of our group. This complements the herbarium of the Coffin Bay National Park prepared by the late Sally and Barney Williams. Both are now housed in the Eyre Natural Resource Centre in Port Lincoln, and are available as a community educational and reference resource.

Our "Day in the Park” event in October provided an opportunity for our members and the public to learn about the history of the Lincoln National Park, and its resident plants and birds, from our own member “experts”. A very enjoyable day was had by all, and the open invitation to the public has had the positive result of attracting several new members.

Members recently spent two days giving the Donington Cottage and surrounds a thorough spring clean and checkup of facilities.The Cottage, originally the Cape Donington lighthouse keeper’s residence, is a popular overnight accommodation venue for visitors to the Lincoln National Park. It overlooks a beautiful secluded beach, and is close by to the Park walking trail network. Bookings can be made through the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre.

... from Jim Egan, President Friends of Southern Eyre Peninsula Parks

Ph.86822144 |

Monitoring and maintaining Southern Alinytjara Wilurara region

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In mid August this year, Paul Gregory, Ceduna-based Project Officer with Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara (NR AW) and Dennis Hocking from the West Mallee Protection Group (WMPG) set off on a four-day expedition along the East West rail corridor and through the Yellabinna and Yumbarra parks.

In this remote region, the distances between areas that need to be monitored and maintained means that returning to Ceduna each night is not a practical option.

Setting off early from Ceduna, Paul and Dennis’ first job was to monitor and treat Buffel grass along the East West rail corridor and assess if spraying was needed in response to winter rains. Trains travelling through areas where Buffel grass is growing, inadvertently spread the seed across the pristine AW landscapes.For this reason, the tracks need to be constantly checked and outbreaks destroyed before the Buffel grass becomes unmanageable and causes irreversible ecological damage.

Monitoring along the rail corridor from Ooldea to Malbooma revealed three areas that required treatment and a single plant that had sprung up near the Barton siding.

“There was hardly any healthy mature Buffel grass compared to past inspections at this time of year. It’s really great to see that our treatment programs using residual chemicals and granules have been so effective” said Paul.

On completion of the Buffel grass monitoring work, Paul and Denis travelled to Mount Finke to assess how effectively the access and campsite management work, undertaken earlier in the year, had been at decreasing erosion and destruction of fragile vegetation caused by visitors.

“It was rewarding to find that all the access management work carried out at Mount Finke appeared to have been respected by visitors to the area. Instances of driving off track and informal camping had decreased significantly since we undertook the access management work” said Paul, who had been part of the original work team.

Next they travelled to Googs Lake which is a very popular visitor site for both locals and distance travellers.

“Over the past few years, groups of volunteers joined NR AW staff in establishing campsites, disguising unnecessary tracks and clearly identify access routes around the region. The local farmers and Traditional Owners who camped out with NR AW staff for 5 days in 2014 and again in 2015 did an incredible job of transforming this area. Their help was invaluable.

“We were disappointed to find however that approximately 300m of track leading to a revegetated area that had previously been closed off appeared to have opened up and used with some frequency. Without any heavy equipment on hand, we dug a deep trench across it to deter visitors from continuing to use this route and from destroying the 200ha of revegetation work.

“Sadly, on this occasion we found that the area around the Googs Lake memorials was heavily littered by an assortment of beer cans, bottles and other rubbish.“Goog” and his son were the first to forge a vehicle track to the lake. We collected over 20kg of rubbish from around the camping area and the memorials, and were left to wonder what sort of people could visit this beautiful place and go off and leave such a mess behind.” said Paul.

In 2013, 600 native trees were planted to promote re-vegetation in the Googs Lake area. The tree guards installed around each of the young plants were now starting to dislodge and be scattered by the wind. These were collected and taken back to Ceduna to be disposed of.

“Given the harshness of the conditions and the failure of some visitors to respect the revegetation areas, it was pleasing to find that about 20% of the trees planted had survived. ”

Paul and Denis then carried out repeat photography at long established photopoints within the Googs Lake access management area. These would be used to compare with previous records and note changes in the landscape including to vegetation and soil erosion.

The team then visited areas around Nalara and Lois granite out-crops where they mapped existing tracks and noted their condition. This would be used to inform plans for future access management work and environmental preservation.

To find out more about the Alinytjara Wilurara region (north-west SA) visit our website at or our Facebook page

30th anniversary of the Coorong and Lower Lakes being named a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

This year South Australia celebrates 30 years of the Coorong and Lower Lakes being recognised as a Ramsar site, an internationally significant wetland. The area is one of Australia’s iconic wetlands supporting critically endangered, endangered, threatened and vulnerable species and ecological communities.Phillips and Muller (2006) outline that the Coorong and Lower Lakes support extensive and diverse waterbird, fish and plant assemblages which are reliant on its complex mosaic of wetland types and the Ramsar convention is an acknowledgement of its significance not only in Australia but internationally.

In geographic language, the Coorong is defined as a long, shallow brackish to hypersaline lagoon 140 km in length that is separated from the Southern Ocean by a narrow sand dune peninsula and there is much information, brochures and books that describe and illustrate its unique landscape and diversity as well as Lakes Albert and Alexandrina.

However, moving away from the geographic, there is also much descriptive language that tries to capture the beauty of the Coorong and the Lower Lakes. Stories detail the low lying dunes framing the horizon, the big open sky, the long expanses of lagoon with water swirling in and out of the old fish traps and the wind-swept ti trees with their plucky white flowers. They try to capture the experiences of scents along the winding tracks that make their way through the coastal wattles, all the way to the ocean and the visions of pelicans flying in formation overhead. These experiences cause us all to do a second take on what really matters and the Friends of the Coorong are one community group that are well acquainted with such experiences.

However, it is the words used by the indigenous peoples of the Coorong and Lower Lakes, the Ngarrindjeri, and the culture and understandings that they have in relation to the area that help us reflect on the meaning and importance of the Ramsar recognition.

The Ngarrindjeri culture teaches about the interconnectedness between all living things and according to these principles the ‘environment’ cannot be compartmentalised, all things are connected and interconnected. For the Ngarrindjeri people, the land and people themselves are one. According to my understanding, their philosophy is based on maintaining the integrity of the relationship between place and person and it stresses the responsibility of the living to maintain this continuity.

The Ramsar recognition resonates with these principles – it asks us to become aware of and value the ecology of the region and the interconnections between water health, the land it nurtures and the fauna and flora that it supports, as well as to take appropriate national action. The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Although the situation is not as dire as it was in the drought, issues relating to the flow of water down the Murray continue and the struggle for a balance between cultural, ecological and economic needs continues. Local communities around the Coorong and Lower Lakes can provide heartfelt testimony to these struggles. The Ramsar convention mentions international cooperation which is not relevant to us as an island but we do have a great need of both regional and interstate cooperation to maximise the water flow into the Coorong and the Lower Lakes to maintain the health of the wetland.

As the traditional custodians of this area, the Ngarrindjeri people have recognised the uniqueness and richness of the Coorong for many, many more than 30 years. This commemoration is not only an ideal point in time to reinvigorate our understandings of the interconnections of the ecology of the area but also to reify a systematic approach and in doing so, to pool collective wisdoms and develop shared goals to promote this wonderful wetland that so many of us love.

Yunti Ngopun Ngami - Together We Walk

... words contributed by Jane Fitzgerald, Friend of the Coorong
picture is lower portion of a photo by Debbie Jeisman


Trails in Sturt Gorge

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

As indicated in our last newsletter DEWNR had advised that a series of new shared trails and upgrades in Sturt Gorge would be completed in 2015.

If you have ventured down into Sturt Gorge recently you may well have noticed that this work has now been completed and gives walkers and cyclists several new options to get down to the river and back out again on more favourable gradients.

If you haven’t ever been into Sturt Gorge, you will find it is one of Adelaide’s little known gems, with walking and bicycle trails connecting Riverside Drive at Bedford Park in the west to Murray’s Hill Road, Coromadel Valley at Horners Bridge in the east (approximately 10 kms) with many other loop options.

New colour-coded trail signage has been installed along many of the trails although you may want to look carefully at the signs to make sure you are heading along the correct trail. Signage at trailheads is also now completed.

Our trail map expert, Rick Williams, has recently put the final touches to our new map which includes all the new trails and is available from Bob Grant on 7329 8296 or or the following outlets:

* Carto Graphics at 147 Unley Road, Unleyand
* Friends of Heysen at 10 Pitt Street, Adelaide.

The retail price of the map has not increased from our previously published price of $10.00.

... modified extract from Friends of Sturt Gorge July 2015 newsletter

Archie McArthur OAM, SA's own Ant Man

Ashleigh Coombs - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

[... reproduced from an article by Tim Williams appearing in the Sunday Mail of 19 July 2015]

MUCH like the comic-book superhero, Adelaide's very own 'Ant-Man' is a diminutive bundle of irrepressible energy.

At 93, world-renowned entomologist Archie McArthur can be found at the SA Museum every day, painstakingly classifying ant species.And he believes the new Ant Man film, though not his cup of tea, has an important message for two-legged life forms.

"What I noticed was how the ants co-operated with each other, whereas the few people in the film were at each other's throats," he said after watching the blockbuster at the Piccadilly Cinema.

"Ants have occupied the planet for millions of years, compared with tens of thousands for Homo sapiens, and during this long period it is believed ants have evolved a preferred way of life for survival, and this involves co-operation and good behaviour."

The movie stars Paul Rudd as a master thief who, thanks to a hi-tech superhero suit, can shrink to insect-size.

Mr McArthur's small office in the museum's Science Centre, that he has occupied for 25 years since retiring to Adelaide from the family farm in the South-East, is a far cry from the hi-tech labs of comic book scientists.Yet in his work he displays a similarly intense focus to his fictional counterparts.

Right now that means sorting through 423 specimens of a particular ant genus, likely to add hundreds of new species to the 143 he has already written a book about.

"I've built up a hell of a big collection of ants here.We've certainly got the biggest in Australia, it could even be the world,"the museum's longest serving volunteer and honorary research associate said.

"They are the world's best garbage collectors.They are terribly important in the environment."

[Archie McArthur was on the Lower South East CC for many years]

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